Russell Fielding has received funding for a research project titled: “The Cleanest Line: A Recreation Ecology Study of Rock-Climbing in Southern Appalachia.”

Outdoor recreation, in many forms, is growing throughout the Southern Appalachian region. Demand for spaces in which to practice rock-climbing and other outdoor recreational activities exceeds supply. Barriers to the development of additional climbing sites, as well as to maintaining access current sites, exist and include concerns over liability and environmental integrity. This project will address the latter of these concerns through an application of the theory and research techniques of recreation ecology to the study of the environmental impacts of rock-climbing in Southern Appalachia. The project timeline is one year. After this year, I plan to expand the project to include other outdoor recreational activities in addition to rock-climbing. This project will benefit landowners and managers, both on the Domain and throughout the region, by providing data relevant to recreation-based land-use management.